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Lord Cooke of Thorndon - papers

Identifier: coor


  • 1955-2006

Conditions of access and use

Access is freely available within the J.C.Beaglehole Room for research and private study. For any use beyond this, please contact the J.C.Beaglehole Room ( in the first instance.

Biographical / Historical

Robin Brunskill Cooke was born in Wellington on the 9th of May 1926. He attended Wanganui Collegiate School and went on to graduate LLM from Victoria University of Wellington in 1950. As a qualified New Zealand Barrister, he went on to further study at Cambridge University and was awarded and MA from Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge in 1954 and a PhD in 1955, also winning the Yorke Prize in 1955 for his essay on jurisdiction. He was called to the Bar by Inner Temple in 1954. He later returned to New Zealand and became a QC in 1964, the youngest such appointment at the time. In 1972 he was appointed as a judge of what was the the Supreme Court of New Zealand, and in 1976 to the Court of Appeal. From 1986-1996 he was President of the Court of Appeal. He retired from that position, but was then granted a British Life Peerage (As Baron Cooke of Thorndon), and sat on the Appelate Committee of the House of Lords (the only Commonwealth judge to have done so in the 20th century) until he retired in 2001. From time to time he also sat as President in the Courts of Appeal of Samoa, the Cook Islands and Kiribati, as a Non-Permanent Judge on the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal, and a Judge of the Supreme Court of Fiji.

He contributed significantly to legal writing. As well as numerous articles for legal journals, he was the General Editor of 'The Laws of New Zealand' from 1992-1996. Among his papers are the texts of numerous addresses to Law Societies, legal conferences - both NZ and international - and

In 1987 he delivered a Court of Appeal judgment in the case 'NZ Maori Council v the Attorney-General' which affirmed the principle of partnership which continues to inform legal relations between Maori and the Crown. In 1989 Victoria University of Wellington awarded him an Honoarary Doctorate of Laws, and since 2002 the university has held an annual Robin Cooke Lecture on contitutional and administrative law.

He died in 2006.

Further information can be found in Wikipedia -,_Baron_Cooke_of_Thorndon - and his entry in the Gonville and Caius obituaries -


650 linear_centimeters

Language of Materials


Papers of Robin Brunskill Cooke - Lord Cooke of Thorndon
J.C.Beaglehole Room, archives and manuscripts
Unverified Partial Draft
Sue Hirst
20 August 2021
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the J C Beaglehole Room, Victoria University of Wellington Library Repository

P O Box 3438
Wellington 6140 New Zealand
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